It’s tragic when any addict dies unnecessarily but there’s something especially sad about Glee star Cory Monteith’s shocking passing yesterday. It’s not just that, at 31, he was far, far too young to go. It’s not just that he was beautiful and talented and seemed to have the whole world at his feet. And it’s not just that he seemed, from the bit of himself that he put out there, to be uncommonly sweet. It’s all of that and that he appeared to be trying so hard not only to be honest about his struggles but also to try to help other kids who may be suffering similarly.
In the interview he gave Parade in 2011, he spoke about smoking pot and drinking as a kid, trying 12 different schools before finally quitting altogether at 16, the intervention his family and friends arranged when he was 19 and stealing money from a relative to fund his addiction. In April, he checked into rehab again and was supposedly full of gratitude when he checked out a month later. But perhaps the most haunting evidence of the tragedy is evident in an interview he did on a show called George Tonight, when he talked ever so openly about the inarguably painful experience of hearing from his dad—whom he had no relationship with anymore. Apparently, once Monteith became famous, his dad sent him a note on Facebook; Monteith sounded all of about 10 years old as he detailed their reconnection. “It was the best thing to come of this,” he said—this meaning his fame and success—before compassionately explaining why he was so open to letting his dad back in. “Parents are just people, too,” he said. “They make mistakes.”
While of course parental abandonment doesn’t always lead to addiction, it’s not entirely uncommon, either. And Monteith does a solid job of explaining addiction in the interview, calling his reasons for using the result of “not really having a self-image at the time.” The fact that he was so willing to be compassionate, so willing to, as he says in the interview, “try and do the next right thing,” feels unbelievably tragic at this juncture. As he said, “Fame provides so many opportunities to do the next wrong thing.”